Thursday, May 27, 2010

A few days away from the start of my third Comrades Marathon. Hopefully I bring back my second medal! I am at times so excited, then others puzzled. Is this really me? On one hand it seems like just another race, yet on the other hand it feels monumentous. Especially when people say they admire me, or they are in awe of me. It feels so natural in many ways to be doing this and then so unbelievably unlike me on the other. I still like to park close to shops, so I don't have to walk far. The thought of climbing stairs brings back the 'old me'. Running for a ringing telephone tires me out, yet I am fitter than I ever was in my twenties and thirties.
So it does feels unbelievable, yet if I have gotten to this point, anyone can!
I am not one of those driven, dedicated types, 'laissez faire' would be a more accurate style of person, hubby would disagree and say 'lazy fair' (which is probably truer!). I dislike routine, and I am certainly not competitive. If it rains, I stay at home and forgo the run. But the difference is, not running one day, doesn't put me off forever, like it used to.
The physical act of running isn't even the attraction. I don't go all mathematical and work out my running speed, and the last km's timing, because that bores me. I have an idea now of what I am capable of, and I do look at the end of say 10kms, and then do any maths, if need be. I don't know how I should be running with proper gait, and heel strike, all I know about is that I seem to plod, or shuffle, and that works for me.
I am boring in the way that I can now talk running for hours with fellow runners, but usually about other runners and not the technicalities of anything. I want to know how other people feel, and what they do, and that is what interests me. People have stories, and my running friends have years and years of different races, in different towns, and that fascinates me.
I don't eat the correct things and work out the intake or output, I just go with what I now know, and what I like. There is probably many things that could be corrected, but the 'effort' puts me off- see, I told you 'lazy'!
I enjoy being out on the road, surrounded by people and this awesome country and I feel totally safe on the road, apart from woman drivers who seem to drive far too close to me, but that only happens when I'm running alone!
I enjoy reading about running, but again it's the stories I'm after, the different type of shoe doesn't keep my interest for very long, unless it's those weblike shoe gloves, that look like barefeet, those still intrigue me!

So now my bags are packed, got my Durban warm clothes, where it will be warmer than Jozi, and am almost ready to board that plane. Roughly 10 hours are in the way between me and the start of my weekend away. The excitement has my head playing mini-samples of music all day, and I sing them so hubby can be a doll and pretend he recognises them. I can't seem to sit still for very long, and there is nothing on tv! Even my internet game isn't keeping my interest. The bubble of excitement is twitching in my limbs, and I will have to take a bath, and read something really boring later to slow my body down.

I am looking forward to meeting my fellow 'comrades' some known, and others to be known. I can't wait to hear new stories, and am so looking forward to receiveing the love from the spectators that festively line the roads of Natal, cheering us on. I am excited at the prospect of doing a better time, and feeling clear-headed, and that feeling when we near the stadium, and I hear the PA guy trying his best to sound excited after 7 hours of duty. I want to shout at the cameramen who are usually sitting behind their cameras, not filming us, because we are too slow for the TV interest, but not slow enough for the heart-wrenching tears at the final 12 hour gun. I want to smile and 'whoop' as we enter the stadium, and hear the people applaud us even if they are still anxious as they wait for their own loved ones to enter the stadium.
Why would anyone not want to run this race? It is an experience that lives on forever, and no matter how long I rant, it is still undescribable.
Bring it on!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Now we move closer and closer to single figures, nearing the Comrades. That means that mileage is shorter, and the waiting feels longer. Last night we set off to do a shortish run so sister could try out her new shoes. On the way we met up with a fellow club runner and physio, and it was nice running with her. Although I felt very old, compared to the two of them, as they lightly skipped up the steep hills! They were very kind and allowed me to walk, when I got to a specific marker, but I was still huffing and puffing! It also got very dark, and the roads were still busy with cars making their way home. So we spent quite a bit of the last part on the pavements and I am still very cautious about running on pavements, so I slowed right down.
Every morning, us runners do a full body mental scan, checking for any new pains, or aches before we get up and face our day. At this stage no-one wants to get sick, so a lot of people become paranoid about it. In fact I am sure I can feel an ache in my throat right now.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Having been through this stage of 'waiting for Comrades' before, I now know that when I feel out of breath going up stairs is no indicator of my running fitness. Feeling like I am going to pass out after 2 km's is also just a way my body is trying to mess with my head about running a lot more than that! So I keep my chin up, and eyes straight to remind me that there is indeed a world out there waiting to be seen, by me, on foot!!!

I met up with some of my running friends on Saturday which was nice, as I hadn't seen them for a while, and it made for a nice catch-up while out dodging traffic. The wind was blustering at first, and for a moment we thought winter had arrived, but it was just a short trailer of what May come (groan!) The later start means our suburb is rather busy with the hustle and bustle of cars. I am very happy to see that some of our potholes have been repaired. However the sad consequences of that is that I realised that people dodge more for potholes than for runners! Once again, ladies, you have let me down. Perhaps I could put it down to the judging of distance, however it may well be the cellphone you are trying to send messages on, that is clouding your vision! Many a time I tested my hopping reflex, as I realised that the car is not going to budge, so it's best that I clear the way! That was even in broad daylight, can't even blame the dark! Sigh!

So less than 2 weeks to go, and I find myself looking over last years photo's and feeling chuffed that I am healthy and able to do this all again. One of the comments seen on Facebook to a friend was 'You thank yourself for not putting your body through that torture....have you ever seen a healthy looking long distance runner? you made the right choice...' To which of course, I HAD to reply, that I am a long distance runner, and I am healthy looking!

It is strange that I am this side of that argument though, because at my sister's first Comrades six years ago, I was thinking along those lines of torture, craziness, and never-ending pain too.

What I had never experienced that side of the argument was the camaraderie, the spirit, the joy, the humour, the support, the views, the love from strangers, the pride in strangers eyes, the hope, the fears, the sharing, the conversations, the constant motion, the pleasure, the ubuntu, the surprise, the ecstasy when you see Pinetown, the glee when you realise Durban is just ahead, the smells, the families sitting on couches by the roadside cheering, the moments when you catch a cheering stranger's eyes, and words can't express what the connections mean, and of course that heartbusting feeling when you enter that stadium. This side of the argument feels so much better, and I am so glad that I am facing this 'ultimate human' test again!

Roll on the 30th!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It is almost 2 weeks till Comrades. That means 14 days till I run 89. something kms. So today I went out with my friends from my club for a 10km run. The first thing that surprised was the overnight drop in temperature. It has been a while that it has been 'dry' cold, we have had lots of mist, and rain, uncharacteristic for this time of year, usually we just have sun and frost. So we stood clustered together waiting for the 7am start, and dressed warmly.
Out on the street, the wind dropped, and I was instantly hot. This could have been because I haven't been running much, so it may have been my body shock,  but then  I saw someone else take off the outer layer of clothes. Good, so it's not just me!
We had a different 10km route, and the one hour later start in winter means that the roads are already busy, so we have to keep our wits about. On the main road a truck went past and actually blew my hat off. This has never happened to me, I used to think it was because I had an odd shaped head, so hats would stay on, but this one didn't. Maybe all this running is making me lose weight.... on my skull!
We chatted about this and that, and the fact that the Comrades countdown as well as the countdown for the World Cup football is all a day early. The FIFA site has it right, but all other websites and media are a day ahead. Then we heard about mist playing havoc with airporsts and flights, and talked once again about training, and recent races. This all happens while running. I never thought I would get to the stage where I could hold and maintain a conversation while running. My first year of running consisted of head nods, and grimaces while I listened to the chatter and banter of the fit ones, and had all the fantastic retorts, but no energy to say them! Now I have the energy, but the conversations have changed!
Who would've thought that I could own that quality? Not the lack of retorts, but the fit one. I am pleased with myself for not giving up when I didnt get my first Comrades medal, because I was too slow, and I am pleased that I went back again last year and did it! I am pleased that I stuck to our training plan (even loosely!) and I am about to go down again. It is a real blessing that I have the health, the ability, and the excitement to go an experience the 'ultimate human race'.
I am great-full!